Sassoon is one of those names one remembers because it sounds vaguely funny. When first introduced to him, probably in high school, I recall there being a joke about a bassoon. Still we knew he wasn't a really great poet because...well because he didn't sound like more than a relative to a hairdresser.
Then again his portrayal of war, and that is all we knew of him at the time, was disturbing. He described war in such stark detail that one could feel the rumble, smell the death and decay and wonder how one ever got in such a mess in the first place. It left me longing for Keats in my immature heart and mind.
I remember being told the story of him overcoming an enemy position and then, instead of calling for reinforcements, sitting down and reading a book. Secretly I admired him for that (more than the poetry we were reading anyway!) because it was a statement that we make our own peace and it often doesn't come easily. At the time, of course, I was too inhibited to say such things.
I was glad to read a review of these and have the time to take them down off the dusty shelf. At this time in my life, they strike at my heart for Sassoon is a poet who, in the true sense of a prophet, has said, This is the world you have created...and it will get worse unless you do something. He presents the stark reality of life during war with sentimentality clinging as a human frailty. After this introduction, one would be hard pressed to call him anything other than "the war poet." Still he deserves to be called...and read so much more.